It’s now or never for Olympic hopeful Anthony Ogogo

THE feeling of being punched in the face once again was a satisfying one for Olympic hopeful, Anthony Ogogo.

With the next fortnight being the most pivotal in the 23-year-old’s boxing career, the Lowestoft middleweight has had to shed the ring rust.

Ogogo is preparing for the start of the AIBA European Olympic Qualifying event in Trabzon, Turkey, and knows there will be no prizes for coming second, with just one coveted Olympic spot in his division available.

He underwent surgery on his troublesome right shoulder in October and was told the normal recovery time for such a procedure was six months.

However, he was back punching at the start of the New Year in a bid to get his Olympic dream on track and has earned himself a place on the Great Britain for the tournament which begins this Friday.

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Prior to his operation, Ogogo was in so much pain that he was having to cut corners in his preparation and that probably hindered his progress at last year’s World Championships – a tournament in which he failed to gain automatic qualification to this year’s Games in London.

“When I boxed about ten days ago, it was with pads,” revealed Ogogo, who was speaking from a training camp in France, last week.

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“I remember six months to that day I could not do any pad work and I had to just get into the ring and hope that my shoulder was going to be okay and would not let me down.

“The first couple of times back in the ring I was a bit off the pace and I was worried that I might have forgotten what to do and got in to some bad habits. I was a bit rusty but there was nothing like being hit in the face for the first time.”

Ogogo goes into the tournament in good form having won gold at a Grand Prix event in Belgium, although he revealed he is still battling to overcome the pain barrier.

And with two or three members on the GB squad at each weight, Ogogo’s task will not be an easy one.

“The European Championships are going to be really hard but I feel a lot better now than I did a while back. I can’t explain how much better my shoulder feels now,” said Ogogo.

“I feel really optimistic about things, I feel good and I managed to get through the tournament in Belgium and win it too, beating the world number five on the way.

“It has still been painful and I am still having quite a lot of physio and having to do extra work in the gym but I am feeling confident.

“I was more worried about my performance than actually winning the tournament in Belgium but to get a win under my belt was excellent.”

The Olympic Games start on July 27 and Ogogo is determined to be a part of the biggest sporting event in the world.

“If it was not the Olympics then I would have taken more time to recover but this is so important to me,” he said.

“Just the mention of the Olympic Games makes my body tingle and it is an incomparable feeling for me.”

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